Shrimp Filling for Tamales

Contains:  Shellfish (shrimp).  Is:  Gluten-free, Paleo, if by itself.  

tamales, shrimp, Mexican, recipe

A while back, I made and posted about two tamale recipes.  I won’t today post the making of the masa that surrounds the filling.  We were doing a tamale making party at a friend’s house; I made a couple of fillings in advance, and other people did other things for the gathering – the masa, of course, two styles.  A vegan filling (black beans and sweet potatoes).  Another friend made five different sauces for us to enjoy.  We also had Pozole soup and cranberry beans cooked Mexican style.  And a unique bread pudding of Mexican origin for dessert – which featured both cheese and blueberries, and thankfully NO raisins!

By the way, making tamales as a family or a group together is a good Mexican tradition, occurring around the Christmas holidays.  The occasion is callled a tamalada, and is a great way for people, traditionally mostly women, to get together and share their lives and any gossip with each other.  Especially now that I have done this last weekend with others, I fully appreciate the point!  And one need not wait for Christmas, either.

Today I will simply write up the shrimp filling – but you are welcome to peruse my older recipes for tamales – which incorporated only New World foods:  Turkey & Tomato and Vegan Tamales (Beans, Squash, Arbol), to complete the process.

recipe, tamales, shrimp

Tamales, with a small scoop of cranberry beans done Mexican

What I would change down below next time:  I’d take one of those tomatillos and chop it up to add to the shrimp, raw.  Still, do pre-cook the other one.

Timings here are for the filling, only!  Recommend steaming these assembled shrimp tamales for 30 minutes, no longer.

Prep Time:  15 minutes.  
Cook Time:  10 minutes  
Rest Time:  Not essential, but may help to meld flavors.
Serves:  Depends, it is a filling.
Cuisine:  Mexican/Central American
Leftovers:  Sure.

Shrimp Filling for Tamales

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatillos, de-husked and finely chopped.
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 pound / grams medium-sized raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved lengthwise.  Some if larger can be chopped in half.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped, or two teaspoons dried oregano flakes.  Using Mexican oregano is best.
  • 2 tablespoons more or less of fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a skillet, pan fry the onion in the cooking oil, about ten minutes.  Add the garlic and the tomatillo., cook for another two or three minutes.  

Allow this to cool to room temperature.  

To the shrimp add all the other ingredients.  Mix with your hands. 

When the cooked portion is cooled, add in the shrimp mixture.  Blend gently.

Use this as your tamale filling as described in either of these two recipes:  Turkey & Tomato and Vegan Tamales (Beans, Squash, Arbol),

Steam for 30 minutes, allow to cool to a warm temperature, and for the masa to set up.  Approximately 15 minutes.  


Oh, if you just want to enjoy the filling – a quick pan frying for about 6-8 minutes should do the trick.

Recipe, tamales, shrimp

This recipe is shared with Fiesta Friday, co-host Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook;


About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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